WWII-era Black Officer’s Club rehabilitated
JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MAY 12, 2020 – The Missouri State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) was recently recognized by the National Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) with the Chairman’s Achievement Award for its involvement in the rehabilitation of the Black Officer’s Club, located in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Amanda Burke and Toni Prawl of the State Historic Preservation Office facilitated consultation for compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, resulting in the rehabilitation of one of only two remaining World War II-era black officer clubs in the nation.
The award was presented during a ceremony at the ACHP’s business meeting at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. The rehabilitation of Building 2101, now dedicated as Staff Sergeant Samuel A. Countee Hall, was completed in 2019 after a successful Section 106 historic preservation review that involved the ACHP, U.S. Army, Missouri State Historic Preservation Office, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Pulaski County and Rolla NAACP, Missouri Preservation, and Sammie Whiting Ellis, SSG Countee’s niece. Through this collaboration, a compatible long-term use was found for the building.
"Having the opportunity to meet so many people and being able to assist in the restoration of this national treasure has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life," said program facilitator and SHPO historic preservation specialist, Amanda Burke. "This project brought together people and agencies from across the nation and has resulted in taking a once little-known World War II temporary building at Fort Leonard Wood, only exceptional for containing a mural by Samuel Countee, and made it the most sought after venue on the base."
This project began when the building was declared excess property in the late-2000s. Without a use for the historic building, the plan was to demolish the building and move the mural to a museum. However, it became clear that the building itself was significant to American history, being only one of two World War II black officer clubs remaining in the nation. In 2010, a use as a training facility was identified for the building and consultation began on how to rehabilitate the building. With years of careful consultation, selective demolition and construction, a nationally significant building was saved and part of nation’s history preserved.
For more information about the project, visit achp.gov/sites/default/files/2019-04/Ft.%20Leonard%20Wood.pdf.
For more information about the ACHP Chairman’s Award, visit achp.gov/news/fort-leonard-wood-black-officers-club-restoration-project-honored-chairmans-award.
The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks is responsible, in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service and local governments, in carrying out the mandates of the National Historic Preservation Act (P.L. 89-665, as amended) in Missouri. The SHPO is supported in part by the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, and works with citizens and groups throughout the state to identify, evaluate and protect Missouri's diverse range of historic, architectural and archaeological resources.